Therapy for Zoos

Life can often get very hard. It can get hard from running into struggles on the way through it. It can get hard from conditions we are born with or develop as we grow. It can get really complicated by the traumas we pick up in this world filled with all kinds of bad experiences. And while it’s certainly great to be able to fight through quarrels of life on your own, sometimes it’s needed to get some support from a professional. And even if it's not needed, in the other times, it can just make it much easier.
Hello, I’m Knotty Raccoon Girl, or KRacc for short, and today I’ll be talking about therapy, why I think it’s good idea to do it, why coming out to your therapist can help make your time more effective, and how I went about it. Make yourself a cup of your preferred beverage, because this is gonna be a long one!
To be honest, my opinion is EVERYBODY should think about doing therapy. We live in a crazy world that keeps rushing forward, and there’s so little energy to process it all. The more people I know who try going through some therapy, the more people I know who are surprised to find out how much stuff is hidden inside. And it can actually influence the way they navigate through life. When you look at the masses of people refusing just to even think about doing therapy, you’d probably find a lot of people who actually need some kind of a professional insight the most. It can be really useful to get an outside look on how our mind can work, because we can sometimes feel hopeless facing our own issues, while someone from outside might be able to gives a look that pushes us a bit forward. Sometimes we don’t even fully realize how our issues in one part of life can affect our behaviour and experiences in another one. In therapy one can unravel past traumas and understand how they might be influenced by them, talk about current issues weighing down the mind, or try to get help about a relationship that isn’t going exactly according to the plans. It is a long, slow process, and it can take a while until you find a therapist you feel good with, but it can bring some really fruitful advances. It can offer you help with managing anxiety, give you options on how to better navigate through stressful decisions in your life, or last but not least accept parts of yourself which might be a bit harder to deal with.
Meet me. A trans, zoo racc girl from Europe, who’s been struggling with constant anxiety and chronic depressions since around twelve, while having diagnosed ADHD and undiagnosed autistic spectrum disorder to make it a bit more spicy. A girl who grew up in a malfunctioning family with barely any education about sex and where talking about mental issues was basically forbidden. A girl who didn’t really accept being a zoo for ten years after realizing it in puberty and who didn’t start realizing she actually might be a girl until like 25. Actually, let’s sprinkle it with lifelong difficulties with socialization and various trauma to make it a bit more C-PTSD. There, perfect! A great pile of mess to fix. 
During my life, I have been trying to find ways to make surviving in this world with that weird brain of mine a bit easier, but some things help only so much. Realizing I’m autistic at the age of 19 helped me a lot with understanding why I don’t fit into groups and why my mind sometimes thinks so different from the others. Around that time, I also started seeking psychiatric help for my depression, and started trying various antidepressives. Those didn’t really help though, because I just kept running into awful side effects and things that made my ability to enjoy life much worse, like losing libido or/and ability to orgasm. At some moments of my life they gave me a bit more strength to fight through, but none really worked in the long term to solve many of the things weighing my mind. I found one pill that helps take off the anxiety a bit and helps me with my insomnia, but it wasn't a perfect solution. Around this time I first tried going to therapy, but oh, I was not lucky. I paid not exactly a little sum of money to talk to someone who at first looked serious, but then started talking about energies, chakras and crystals. They gave me no useful input but pseudoscience. And that kinda demotivated me for years to try therapy again, especially since I’ve heard some of my friends going through similarly unsatisfactory meetings with therapists.
After some time I at least accepted that I’m a zoo, although it took almost ten years of self-hate, feeling shameful and being confused by how romantically close I felt to the family dog. I realized I felt more close to animals, especially dogs, just as I was entering puberty, but all I knew about it, aside from the porn, was that it was mentioned in school as a sexual deviancy and everyone was utterly disgusted by it. But shortly after getting into the furry fandom, I ran into some zoos as well, because back then it wasn’t as frowned upon to admit to liking feral art and being interested in canine anatomy. Meeting other people who share my sexuality and being able to talk with them about it, and getting some sources to get educated helped me to finally understand myself some more and start accepting that I’m a zoo. Being able to experience my first zooey fun with a canine was just the cherry on top that set it in stone for me. 
But, while that helped a bit too, there still was so much going on weighing me down. Accepting you feel romantic and sexual feelings towards animals is just one piece of the puzzle. You still can feel the loneliness and isolation, especially if you don’t know your way to international communities. Sometimes, your local communities are really small and those who you meet there don’t necessarily turn out to be as good people as you first thought. And even with some friends over the net who live their way sharing the same alternative sexuality as you, it still is hard to live that secret double life, obscuring your real life friends from this side of you. They wouldn’t have to be as accepting. 
And as life progressed, things only became harder with realizing I’m trans. And as I started being out as one, living in the feminine role, and starting HRT, all kinds of pressure started coming on and I started having bad issues. I started seeking therapy again. I tried searching, but I couldn't find someone who would be covered by health insurance at first, until a friend gave me a contact to his therapist friend who would. I contacted him and he offered to do the sessions over Zoom so I don’t have to go to his office that often (he’s from a city that’s a bit far from me). So I though since I’m not losing anything, I’ll try it. 
Despite being skeptical at first, he seemed very understanding. He was pleasant to talk to and it wasn’t that hard opening up about the issues I face in my life. Well, except for being a zoo. During the few first sessions we had he got to know me a bit, how my personality works, what problems I’m facing, and I actually did mention that I have a thing that weights me down a bit but I’m not ready to talk about it yet. I still wasn’t sure what his views on the topic would be if I opened up about being a zoophile. I did mention the furry fandom a few times in our sessions and he was alright with it, although he knew furry as a culture only casually. I also kinda avoided mentioning sexual stuff regarding furry, just to be safe at the start. 
But over the few first months the therapy actually started helping a bit and some of my anxiety became better to handle. I was able to better organize my time and handle my lows, and it helped me focus on my new job. I decided to finally start making some steps towards telling my therapist that on top of all my issues, I’m also a zoo that kinda has to live a double life. At first I started gently with mentioning some issues of hypocrisy in the furry fandom, for example how in some places it’s perfectly normal to like knots on anthro characters, but the second you admit you like cookies, you’re suspected of being a dirty zoophile. He found this very funny and a called it a weird example of sexism, and he was surprised with the negative reactions some people have. He’d been with a friend to a furry con once, and seeing people selling animal shaped dildos, he thought that the fandom would actually be very friendly to zoo minded folk. I also admitted to liking furry porn, but I kinda left it there at the moment and didn’t really mention anything else for the rest of the session. However I felt satisfied with my therapists response, he didn’t get really weirded out, we shared a laugh about the furry fandom. So I thought I would progress in one of the next sessions. Two sessions after that we were talking about relationships, and I started talking about how it’s really hard to find someone who would be willing to stay with me for longer and actually accept me as whole. Naturally, my therapist was wondering why that was, and since I didn’t really felt prepared to talk about zoosexuality yet, I just said that I might have some weird kinks and a somewhat alternate sexuality, and that I will probably elaborate in later session. I tip-toed around the topic and just explained the general externalities of trying to find human partner as a zoo in as vague and obscured of a way as possible. And as the session was ending, I knew that next time, I was gonna do it.
Things all seemed like he should be understanding. I should also note that I didn’t stay away from mentioning how important my dog is to me and how much he helps me by lifting up my mood in various ways, and my therapist praised me for having such a nice relationship with him, saying that I look like a very caring and diligent owner. So I started planning in my head how I would come out. I planned a whole short monologue, explaining who I am, what I do, how I feel...And just to be sure I re-checked legality of bestiality in my country, in case it had silently changed since the last time, so I wouldn’t admit to a criminal activity...alright, still technically legal, so he wouldn’t have a legal reason to snitch on me probably...I was still awfully nervous. Despite preparing myself for the whole week before the next session, when the day came I was all anxious and shaky. So I made one last adjustment to my plan. I rolled multiple fat joints in advance. Weed really helps me with my anxiety and social phobia, and oh boy, I was anxious! Last things to prepare...make myself coffee, pour some water, oh, and since I’m so paranoid, close the windows so neighbours can’t hear what I might be talking about. The last few minutes before starting the session felt so long. And then it started. 
My therapist greeted me in good mood as usual, but he instantly noticed I looked troubled and asked why I look so tense. So I started explaining that today, I have one major thing about myself I want to talk about, and since it's not gonna be easy for me and I’m afraid of the reaction, I would help myself by smoking weed during our session, since I’m not sure how I’d handle the anxiety sober. So as my therapist was telling me that’s alright and to take things as slowly as I need, I started smoking and started replaying my prepared monologue in my head. I started first by pointing out that it’s regarding my sexuality and that it is a thing that impacts not only my relationship but kinda my life as a whole. I took one last heavy puff and I finally addressed the thing. 
"I’m a zoophile, or a zoosexual as I prefer myself to be called, since this isn’t just some kink for me, but rather an orientation. I feel the same depth of romantic and sexual attraction to animals, particularly dogs, as I feel towards humans. I’m in a relationship with my dog and I do engage in the acts of sexual nature. Uh...he’s the one doing the things to me, not the other way, to be clear. I do everything to respect his mind and will and always have his safety and happiness first on my mind. I know I’m not doing anything illegal as long as he’s not harmed and I don’t produce pornography, and I already accepted this part of me. It’s mostly the implications and complications of being a zoo that are giving me stress."
After mumbling and stumbling through the whole monologue, quickly puffing between sentences, I finally reached the end of how I structured my coming out. And while I felt some relief from finally having it behind me, I also felt horrible uncertainty and fear at the prospect of how he would react. I didn’t really see what kind of facial response he gave to my monologue because I kinda stared into the void during most of it. And while waiting for his response felt like eternity for me, it probably wasn’t more than a few seconds before he responded to me.
"Oh, so zoophilia. Yeah, that’s really not that uncommon. It’s just very obscured by being a strong social taboo, so people don’t talk about it. But zoophilic behaviour in people isn’t really rare. And as long as you care of your animal and no harm is done to them and you are not impacted detrimentally to your mental health, there’s really nothing to be fixed, because that’s what you are just attracted to. But I understand that there’s a lot of stress coming from hiding it and having to obscure that part of you from regular relationships around you, and I appreciate a lot you opening up about it." 
It’s hard to describe the weight that fallen of my chest. It’s not really that the worst case scenario would be that bad, but just how good it felt to actually hear a compassionate response and acceptance from a professional. I immediately thanked him for such response and explained how lonely it often feels without having anyone else to talk to other than other zoos. At first I delved more into talk on how zoosexuality is viewed now, and although he said he didn’t really run into much general talk about considering it another sexuality in the professional circles he got into, it definitely has a different standing nowadays than before. It has essentially been taken off from the list of paraphilias, because it kinda doesn’t really fit there, and when someone actually falls into a paraphilic disorder with regards to zoophilia, it’s usually diagnosed as a "paraphilic disorder-not specified." However at its core there’s really nothing that therapy should be doing with being attracted to animals, that’s just how one’s orientation works, and it doesn’t really matter if one’s born with it or it has developed over the time in some way. It’s not a problem to be fixed. It’s just a different way how a person can work, it doesn’t mean they’re broken in any way. No matter how much I already accepted myself and felt validity when talking to other zoos, It was exhilarating to be validated by an actual expert with a compassionate view on the whole issue. The next THC cigarette I had prepared in advance was being lit up in a celebratory mood instead of anxiety. 
From there I started talking more about the effects of isolation, how one sometimes needs to censure themselves, or take care not to stare at a very attractive dog for a suspicious amount of time (especially when they’re showing off their nether regions as they often are). I also opened up about how I almost got outed as a zoo once and how it impacted my trust towards people in various communities. And before I even got to really explain in detail how being zoo AND trans at the same time makes dating insanely hard, our session was nearing the end. Yeah, that was the best one so far.
Since then, my sessions have taken a slight change, however it isn’t really any radical turn. I’m much more open about zooey things in my life, and how things just connect between different parts of it. I can talk about stress from being worried about getting doxed and even talk about some kind of a failure plan for when it inevitably happens. It’s much easier to explain my issues finding a human partner for me when my therapist knows that we would actually be a polycule that includes my canine partner. I can share funny stories from my time in the furry community and all the examples of self-repressment and hypocrisy furries show while being zooey as heck themselves. Or lament about all the visceral, primitive ways antis show hate towards us zoos, maybe because the last wave of antis hating on your post hit some sensitive spot. Now that my therapist knows this, he can put my issues much more into context and tune the therapy to fit me much better individually.  
And it did make my therapy more effective. I can better manage stress and got much better at dealing with hate on the internet. It encouraged me to be more active in the community and start my own project to add to it. Talking about relationships is still not easy, but at least now my therapist is understanding of the struggles. And it’s great to have someone to talk over the red flags some people on the internet show. Coming out to my therapist also encouraged me to try coming out to more people in my circle of close friends. Seeing acceptance and being able to discuss with someone how to gently come out to some one as an animal lover helped me a lot, and currently a significant amount of my closest friends (and some members of family as well) know about my orientation and accept it. After each month of therapy, I’m a little bit better. It might not solve my chronic anxiety issues stemming from my weird brain chemistry, but I’m definitely more able to navigate the low states of existence and feel much less alone in this world as a zoo. 
So! I would definitely come out to your therapist, but you should definitely put some thought into it. There are a few points to think about before you do: 
1) Get to know your therapist first
Don’t jump into „I’m a zoo!“ right away. Just talk about yourself and your general issues for first few sessions, look for how the therapist reacts, what kind of things they recommend...usually during first few sessions you can at least pick out the worst therapists. It’s very common to go through multiple therapists first before you find one you actually feel comfortable talking with. And it’s certainly better to go through a few than stay with one for months, hoping that maybe next time they won’t be dismissive of your perspective of the situation.
2) Poke around
When you’re comfortable with your therapist, try to find out their general opinion on sexuality and the weirder parts of it. You can find out a lot stuff just talking about furries and their sexual culture. Or mentioning issues in a friend’s polycule to hear their opinion on non-monogamous relationships.
3) Prepare
If you think the right moment might come up soon, prepare yourself. Recheck the legal status of zoophilia in your country, and in case there are parts of it that are illegal, it is a good idea to ask your therapist something like "Are there any things that you would have to report when I told you about them?" Most therapists should clearly tell you what things they are obliged to report to the authorities – usually it’s just stuff like murder, sexual abuse and related things, but theoretically, in some countries bestiality could be reportable as well. And if it is, it would definitely be good to really think about approach the topic so one doesn’t get themselves in trouble. You can also try coming out, but saying it's something you fantasize about and haven't done in practice. Being in love with an animal isn't illegal anywhere, it's always just about the sex. But if things are good, you probably should just think about how you want to approach telling your therapist. You can think about your relation to zoosexuality and how you’d summarize it in a few sentences, you can come up with some basic arguments for your defense in case of the therapist not agreeing with something.
4) Come out!
When you are ready, or when you just can’t hold it anymore, just start talking about it. There’s not much  else to advise. It takes some courage, but if you do it, your therapist will have much more complete image of you as a person.
HOWEVER, think about your therapist as well! If they will seem very uncomfortable with what you just started saying, it might be good to ask them if they’re comfortable with talking about it. Not every therapist can take such issues. Not every one is really equipped to deal with it. And not every therapist is okay with talking about all parts of being a zoo. My therapist for example is alright with how being a zoo impacts my life, but he told me that he would feel very uncomfortable if I talked about any deeper sexual details of my zoo life.
And that’s kinda all I could say to this other than: Good luck! 
Sorry for taking so much of your time, dear readers, but therapy is always a long and a personal journey! And it can really help with handling life’s issues, be that your brain not cooperating or people in your life being mean. Us zoos especially face a lot of struggles and hate in our lives and it can be hard to handle. Therapy can help with that a lot, and when your therapists knows from where your stress actually comes from, it can be even more effective! 
Article written by Kracc (November 2023) 
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